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Dr Linkwood Williams

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Dr Linkwood Williams

Birth
Death 20 Feb 2010 (aged 91)
Burial Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
Memorial ID 48688297 View Source
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DR. LINKWOOD WILLIAMS, M.D., 91, of Memphis, died Saturday, February 20, 2010 at his residence. Dr. Williams was a retired physician and was a member of Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church. He was the son of the late Elbert Williams and the late Bessie McNeal Williams. He is survived by his wife, Katie Whitney Williams; daughter, Karen Williams Lee of Southgate, MI; foster daughter, Jessie M. Payne of Memphis, two sons, Galen (Greta) Williams and Mark Williams, both of Memphis; four grandchildren. Arrangements are being handled by R. S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home, 374 Vance Ave. Visitation will be Friday, February 26, from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, February 27, from 11 a.m.-12:55 p.m., at Mississippi Blvd Christian Church, 70 North Bellevue. Funeral service will follow at 1 p.m. with Pastor Virzola Law officiating. Interment will be in Elmwood Cemetery. R.S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home (Published in The Commercial Appeal on February 24, 2010)

Dr. Williams was instructor of famed Tuskegee Airmen -- As he painted new airfield buildings in the early 1940s, Dr. Linkwood Williams watched the first black pilots send their planes swooping through the air. That was when Dr. Williams -- one of the first black flight instructors -- decided to become one of the Tuskegee Airmen. As an instructor at Tuskegee (Ala.) Army Air Field, he trained some of the 450 pilots who served in the 332nd Fighter Group. Dr. Williams, a Memphis resident since 1964, died in his home on Feb. 20 surrounded by his family. He was 91. When black media and leaders began pressuring the military to train black pilots, Tuskegee Institute became one of the six colleges that offered Civilian Pilot Training and the only one that trained black military pilots. The CPT program was designed to create a pool of civilians who could serve as military pilots if the need arose. After the U.S. Army Air Corps began training black pilots in 1939, Dr. Williams dropped out of school two years into college to join the program. He progressed through three CPT courses -- part of what is now called the "Tuskegee Experience." Oral historian Worth Long interviewed Dr. Williams for the National Park Service archives almost a decade ago. "Linkwood Williams told me he was training the airmen for zero tolerance," Long told The Commercial Appeal in 2001. "He could have said, 'I'm going to train me some mediocre pilots.' But he went out there and said, 'I can train some of the best pilots.'" While teaching at Tuskegee, Dr. Williams met his wife of 63 years, Katie, who was working at the airfield. She said her first impression of her husband wasn't favorable. "I thought he was cocky," said Mrs. Williams, 88, laughing. "He was just confident." Dr. Williams went back to school and finished his bachelor's degree in industrial arts in 1943. After the war, he started his own furniture-making company in Cleveland, Ohio, before going to Meharry Medical College in Nashville for his medical degree. He worked as a part-time flight instructor for Air Force ROTC cadets at Tennessee State University during his third-year residency. He practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Memphis for 31 years until he retired in 1995. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Karen Williams Lee of Southgate, Mich.; two sons Galen Whitney Williams and Mark Weldon Williams, both of Memphis; a foster daughter Jessie M. Payne of Memphis and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. today at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, where Dr. Williams was a member, with burial in Elmwood Cemetery. R. S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home has charge. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church Scholarship Fund or the American Cancer Society. (By Ryan Poe, published in The Commercial Appeal 2/27/2010)


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